Devotional on Genesis

2014 – Looking out over Canyonlands NP from Dead Horse Point State Park, UT

Covenant of peace
Genesis 31: So let’s settle things between us, make a covenant.
There’s a saying that you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your relatives. Jacob is related to Laban both through his mother and by marriage. He and Laban have a strange relationship. Laban has lied to Jacob and cheated him. However, every dirty trick Laban tries backfires and Jacob comes out ahead every time. Laban hasn’t really lost anything because the overflow of Jacob’s blessings has spilled over onto him. Finally, Jacob has had enough. He, who arrived at Laban’s doorstep with nothing, is now leaving as a man who’s rich in family and belongings. Given the relationship between these two men, it’s no surprise that Jacob attempts to leave in secret. However, this is no small relocation and Laban and his men easily catch up to Jacob’s huge entourage. The two men have it out; Jacob complaining about how Laban constantly changed the rules and Laban about how everything Jacob has is his. This, apparently, clears the air. Neither man admits to any wrong doing but Laban suggests a truce between them. Out in the wilderness they make a covenant of peace. From now on they’ll do one another no harm. To commemorate the occasion they build a monument called “Galeed” or “Witness Monument” and part on good terms. They call upon the Lord to hold them to their new covenant. From now on they will treat one another with respect. Sometimes it’s a good idea to let the past go and get a new start with those with whom we’ve had issues.
Take away: Is there someone with whom I need to make a fresh start?

Devotional on Philippians

Can’t we all just get along?

Philippians 4: I urge Euodia and Syntyche to iron out their differences and make up.

Everything we know about Euodia and Syntyche is found in this passage; there’s not much. Two women have some differences, about what, we don’t know. These women have partnered with Paul in proclaiming the Good News. They’re faithful laborers in the vineyard of the Lord and their names are in the book of life. Paul urges a third party to get involved, helping them work through their differences. That’s about it. Paul doesn’t take sides and he declares both of these women as “okay” in both his eyes and in the eyes of the Lord. So, what do we have here? First, there’s the reminder that even the best of God’s people can sometimes fail to get along. God’s people, even the saved and sanctified ones, don’t always agree and sometimes their disagreements can be intense. Second, when we do disagree we’re to do all we can to work through it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that one person yields to the other, although it may mean exactly that. At some point, two Christians need to say, “We’ve got to work through this, otherwise, we’ll be diminished for it and Christ’s kingdom will suffer.” Third, sometimes it takes a third party, a mutual friend, respected by both to get the ball rolling. To tell the truth, I wouldn’t want to be Syzgus here. His name means “yokefellow,” thus, “co-worker.” What man wants to get between two women who need to “iron out their differences and make up”? The answer is: the kind of man who’s a real friend of, and is respected by, both women. Paul gives this good man the assignment of bringing these two together to work things out, not because their salvation’s in jeopardy, but because the journey is better together than it is apart, and, because when we’re real “yokefellows” we can accomplish more for God.

Take Away: If there’s an unresolved issue between you and a fellow Christian, don’t pass “go” and “don’t collect $200” until you’ve gone to them and worked it out.